"Joining the Socialist Movement"
by Emil Seidel
Excerpt from a memoir completed in 1944.
Short excerpt from a previously unpublished memoir by the Socialist Mayor of Milwaukee, Emil Seidel, dealing with the socialist movement in that city during the decade of the 1890s. Seidel notes that he was brought into a non-party socialist club called the Vereinigung [Association] by a foreman at the metal fabrication plant where he worked. The group included 35 to 40 German-speaking socialists and was closely linked to the publishing ventures of Victor L. Berger, the daily Arbeiter Zeitung [Workers' Newspaper], which was replaced by the weekly Vorwaerts [Forward].
Seidel relates an anecdote of a disillusioned Victor Berger attacking in print the People's Party's "free silver" plank of 1896 before turning down $10,000 from a Republican Party insider to print a 100,000 copy extra edition of the paper containing this editorial. Berger won trade union leader and orator Eugene Debs to socialism when Debs was serving a six month jail term in connection with the 1894 Pullman strike. A new organization called the Social Democracy resulted; Seidel states that he was the first person to sign up for membership in Branch One of the group when it was established in Milwaukee at a meeting addressed by Debs. This gave way to the Social Democratic Party of America in 1897.
Seidel details the first slate of this new organization in Milwaukee, which stood in the city elections of 1898, drawing just over 2,400 votes.
Edited by Tim Davenport for 1000 Flowers Publishing, Corvallis, OR, September 2013.
Uploaded to Archive.org by Tim Davenport ("Carrite") on Sept. 1, 2013.
Non-commercial reproduction permitted.